French Media Fascinated by Armstrong Comeback

Paris ( - The French media (notably television) are already falling over themselves to cover the Lance Armstrong comeback story.  Armstrong, no doubt, will be the biggest story French sports journalists cover in 2009 and they know it.  French radio, television, print and internet journalists are following Armstrong's every step.  And Armstrong is feeding them (as well as his fans and detractors worldwide) as if they were pigeons in a Paris park via his Twitter feed.

A lucky few will get exclusive access to the 7-time Tour de France champion in the form of lengthy interviews.

Longtime journalists for French sports daily L'Equipe, accustomed in another era long ago to informal interviews of star cyclists over a drink in a bar, resented the relatively limited access they had to Armstrong during his seven Tour de France victories; they often had to go to the old Paceline website like everyone else to get the latest Armstrong news.  And by the time they filed their stories, a million bloggers worldwide had already covered the story.  Oh la la, it was the end of journalism!

And now they have to consume his Twitter feed like everyone else?  (Would you like fries with that, Jean-François?)  Mon dieu!

Many individual journalists here will continue to resent the limited access they have to Armstrong in 2009 but the media they work for are fascinated by Armstrong's return.  Hero or outlaw, it doesn't matter.  The French love westerns.  Armstrong of course knows by now which French journalists are "friendly" and which are not.  Nearly all of them will tip-toe carefully around the champion for fear of having the door shut entirely on their access to the subject of their biggest story of the next year.

There's always Twitter.

-Pete Geyer

Recent Armstrong stories on French television:

Lance Armstrong on Tenerife
Armstrong vs. Contador?
Armstrong and Contador go on
a training ride, one that Contador
finds a bit long given he has only just returned to training.  He asks Alain Gallopin, an Astana directeur sportif, who is responsible for laying out the tough ride.  Gallopin responds "Uh, Lance."  Contador responds "I won't forget this."

Lance Armstrong sits down for a chat with two friendly journalists from France Télévisions, Lionel Chamoulaud and Jean-René Godart.  A long interview, Armstrong responses are in English but also voiced over in French.

(click a thumbnail to watch)

On L'Equipe TV, they recently discussed whether Armstrong would need protection from roadside fans.